Gum health is vital to the stability of your teeth and to your overall health. Recent studies have shown links between gum disease and heart attacks.
How can I tell if I have gum disease?
Have you ever noticed a bit of blood on your toothbrush? Did your gums bleed last time you flossed? Do you ever go three days without flossing? If the answer is yes to any of the above, then you could have gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
If you don't brush regularly, a layer or film will accumulate on your teeth; this is called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria, which then causes gum disease. If left close to the gum, bacteria produce toxins that seep into the gums and cause infection. That's when they start to bleed.
When left for an extended period of time, plaque hardens and forms ledges (calculus or tartar). This will then continue to accumulate and as hard as you try, you will not be able to remove it all. At this point infection has taken hold.
Your teeth are retained directly in your jaw bone and your gums are the "gasket" that keeps the bugs out of the bone. In some people (about 25%) the infection will move through the gums into the bone surrounding the teeth. When this happens the bone around the tooth is slowly dissolved by the infection until there is no bone supporting the tooth. In this case the tooth becomes loose and will need to be removed.
What Can I Do?
A few simple steps will, in most cases, stop things getting worse:
What is a Dental Hygienist?
The Dental Hygienist is a specially trained and registered professional who works with the dentist as part of the modern preventive dental team. Dental Hygienists are primarily concerned with the prevention of gum disease by patient instruction, advice and supervised treatment.
What is the Hygienist's role?
The Hygienist will:
Is There Any Discomfort?
Usually treatment by the dental hygienist is pain free and most regular patients in fact find it very relaxing. However, some patients with gum disease may require deep scaling. If any discomfort is experienced during this treatment, there are various techniques available to ensure your comfort.
Why Doesn't the Dentist Do The Work?
Hygienists are specially trained in the cleaning and maintenance of the teeth and gums. A dentist will refer a patient to a hygienist for specialised preventive oral care, while the dentist provides complex restorative care.
Why dental hygiene visits are important and are they expensive?
Gum disease can be prevented. Good home plaque control techniques help to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Problems are then less likely to progress into more serious situations requiring extensive and expensive treatment. Regular hygiene visits therefore result in long term health benefits and financial savings.